Florence of the North: A Dresden Weekend Trip
A Gay Couple City Weekend Dresden – Back to Karl’s roots: It always feels like a journey back in time when we are visiting Karl’s family in Eastern Germany, in Dresden to be precise. Not only because of the baroque beauty of Dresden’s architecture monuments like the Zwinger, the Castle of Dresden, or the uncountable art treasures in the museums of the Eastern German City. But also because it was Karl’s home town where he came out of the closet, got in touch with the local LGBTQ+ community, and started to play Volleyball in the European Gay League.
In this article, we would like to share our highlights of Dresden and give you a first glimpse of what it is like to visit the capital city of the German federal state Saxony. Things like the lively LGBTQ+ and gay community, the big amount of bars, cafés, and restaurants, as well as the river Elbe, are creating this very special Italian city flair, even in Germany. No wonder that one of the nicknames for Dresden is Florence of the North. And now enjoy our Gay City Trip Dresden blog article and see the beauty of the city by the River Elbe through a Couple of Men‘s eyes!
– paid collaboration –
Historical background: What is Dresden famous for?
But what are the special features of Dresden for which the city on the River Elbe is so famous? To answer this question, we would have to go back in time to the middle of the 17th century when Friedrich August I of Saxony, called August the Strong was born. In his impactful life as Elector of Saxony, Imperial Vicar, and elected King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, he was the man behind the so-called Augustan Age (Electorate of Saxony), when in Saxony outstanding products and services emerged in the political, cultural and economic fields.
He changed the face of a former renaissance city into a modern baroque residential city. Until today, the rebuilt old town city center ‘Altstadt’ remains one of the most beautiful cities we have ever seen. Additional to all the famous and remarkable baroque buildings of Dresden, museums like the internationally significant Dresdner Gemäldegalerie or the Grüne Gewölbe (Green Vault art collection) as well as the invention of the first European hard-paste porcelain brought wealth to Dresden and the region surrounding the city. Let us show you some of the highlights we experienced during our trips to Dresden!
Our favorite airline KLM Royal Dutch Airlines offers flights from €119* to Dresden. A special tip for German LGBTQ+ travelers: SkyTeam member KLM Royal Dutch Airlines with their modern fleet brings you comfortably and quickly from 10 German Airports via Amsterdam-Schiphol, the KLM hub, to over 160 destinations around the globe. *subject to availability / last check: October 2020
Innere Altstadt Dresden: Some of our favorite sights
The best thing you can do to get an overview of Dresden is to plan a walk in the Old Town of Dresden called Dresdner Altstadt. All major sights including the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady) are located in the recently completely rebuilt old town. We stayed at the Vienna House QF right on the Neumarkt (Newmarket) with a spectacular view over this central part of Dresden. From there, it was just a short walk to the river Elbe and some of our favorite sights: the Zwinger, the Castle, the Castle Church, the Semper Opera building, and the Bruehl Terrace. Looking at the Elbe from the southern side of the city reveals the second, culturally no less interesting part of Dresden, the so-called Neustadt (New town).
We visited already the Grüne Gewölbe and the art museums in the Castle during one of our past Dresden trips. Spectacular paintings, crafted art, and porcelain creations can be seen in different museums like the world-famous Albertinum. Another highlight though is a museum a little outside of the old town city center dedicated to health, hygiene, and related exhibition, the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, a Museum of Hygiene in Dresden. It is also the home and origin of the so-called Gläserner Mensch (glass human or transparent human) that in the early 20th century offered the opportunity to see and a detailed transparent replica of a human body. Definitely our tip for a slightly different museum visit.
Lunch Tip – Vegetarian Restaurant brennNessel
Daan is a vegetarian, we know you know that by now. But as you can imagine, finding the right vegetarian place in Germany, especially in Saxony known for its hearty home cooking, is not an easy task. One of the best places in vegetarian places in Dresden is undoubtedly the restaurant brennNessel. Just a short walk away from the Zwinger, the small but charming restaurant is offering a big variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes paired with a good local beer or Schorle (typical German beverage made by diluting juice or wine with carbonated water or lemonade). If you’d like to get a taste of the Saxonian kitchen, check out the adventurous restaurants ‘Sophienkeller’ or ‘Pulverturm’. Not only are the typical local-inspired dishes a delight, but the locations are also modeled on historical tradition including actors and staff in costumes.
FestungXperience – Unique Multimedia Experience
Splendor – Tears – Disasters. Already the slogan of this unique multimedia experience sounds promising. This summer, we finally got to see and experience the well-kept secret underneath the Bruehl Terrace, also known as Europe’s balcony, the Fortress of Dresden. Dating back to the Middle Ages, the center of Dresden was protected by fortifications until those got obsolete in the 18th century. Today, parts of the rediscovered and publicly available parts of the Fortress of Dresden are a museum with a new, spectacular multimedia experience, the FestungXperience.
Equipped with a mobile device and earphones, we started our tour through 450 years of history with breathtaking projections and an atmospheric 3D audio technology. Leave your camera and mobile in your pocket and dive into another world, actually an almost forgotten part of Dresden. Good to know: the FestungXperience is just the first of at least two multimedia experiences. The second one called ZwingerXperience is a captivating virtual reality experience planned to open in spring 2021. We cannot wait to visit it during one of our upcoming Dresden gay city trip adventures.
How LGBTQ+ and gay-friendly is Dresden? Did you know that Dresden has a CSD and LGBTQ+ Pride event? Which gay-friendly Hotel should I book when planning my visit to Dresden? Are there any Gay Bars, queer Clubs, or even a gay Sauna in Dresden? We got the answers for your perfect Dresden Gay City Trip!
The Lili Elbe – Dresden queer Tour
The colorful LGBTQ+ history of Dresden would be incomplete if we would not talk about the Danish painter and transwoman Lili Elbe. Did you know that the first-ever gender reassignment surgery was accomplished in Dresden in 1930? If you saw the award-winning movie “The Danish Girl” you probably know already a good part of her unique, groundbreaking, and rocky paths as an intersex person at the beginning of the 20th century. Born in the 80s of the late 19th century, Lili, back then known under her birth name Einar Magnus Andreas Wegener, came to Dresden to undergo a series of highly experimental gender reassignment operations. The last surgery, transplantation of a uterus caused complications of which she died in 1931.
We had the chance to join the LGBTQ+ Dresden city tour ‘Lili Elbe – Dresden queer’ with our award-winning lesbian tour guide Anett. During this tour, we learned more about Lili, the queer life in Dresden back then as well as more about the LGBTQ+ community in Dresden today. The tour ended at the grave of Lili Elbe at the beautiful Trinitatisfriedhof (Trinity Cemetery) not far from where Karl used to study medicine at the university hospital in Dresden. The Lili Elbe Dresden queer Tour should definitely be on your to-do list for Dresden, in order to learn more about the LGBTQ+ history of the city.
Innere & Äußere Neustadt Dresden: Hip, alternative, gay
From the Inner Old Town of Dresden, we took a bus over the Waldschlösschenbrücke bridge for a short beer tour around the Innere Neustadt with Anett, before we started our own explorations of what is new in the Newtown. Daan fell in love with the art project in the backyards of Neustadt called Kunsthofpassage while Karl just took in the atmosphere of his former home. The decision of where to eat wasn’t easy for us. But it also gave us time to admire the alternative lifestyle. Our favorite stop, always when we are in town for Dresden gay city trip, is of course the gay bar Boys. But there are more LGBTQ+ locations in Dresden. Make sure to not only visit the beautiful old town city center. Dresden Neustadt is different and definitely a tip for all LGBTQ+ travelers coming to Dresden!
Dinner Tip: Neustadt Restaurants & Kathy’s Garage
On the other side of the river Elbe, the Neustadt has a diverse and concentrated landscape of restaurants, (gay) bars, and cafés. Immerse yourself in a completely different, culinary side of the city with burgers, specialties from distant countries, Italian places, and typical Neustadt localities. If you still want to experience the German way, get a drink and something to eat at a German beer garden with a modern twist, Kathy’s Garage with live acts, and modern food creations. Whatever you choose: Enjoy it a Saxon manner: “lasds eisch schmeggn!”.
Filmnächte am Elbufer and going out in Dresden
Any evening plans while visiting Dresden? What about a movie night outside close to the riverside with the world-famous Dresden city panorama in the background? Sounds too good to be true but it is! For Karl, this is simply a must-do every summer in Dresden be it for a movie night or concert with friends at the so-called “Filmnächte am Elbufer” (Movie nights at riverside Elbe). A big screen, an amazing view, and a great selection of old and contemporary movies combined with the sound of Dresden at night. Unforgettable Dresden memories! And after that? It is just a short walk into the exciting nightlife of the Neustadt with its gay bars and very open-minded locations for everyone. A great finale for a wonderful gay city trip to Dresden.
Good to know: Tips for your Dresden Gay City Trip
Our favorite airline KLM connects Amsterdam and Dresden with direct flights from the whole world via Amsterdam Schiphol in just under 1 hour. Give it a try, the prices are spectacular good! But don’t forget about further options for a trip to the East German Capital, either way by train, by bus, or conveniently by car. The easiest way by train is the 2-hour connection from Berlin or the 4,5 hours connection from Frankfurt am Main. Dresden does not have an underground system but instead, one of the best tram networks connecting everything in the city center. We will soon publish more articles about Dresden and Saxony. As you can imagine, there is much more to discover during a Dresden gay city trip!
Please consider our information as suggestions with no guarantee that it still will be like that when you are traveling there. Though we did our research and all our opinions written in this Gay Dresden Travel Guide are honest, authentic, and true. If you have any questions about your plans for traveling to Germany, send us an email or follow us along and drop us a line on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, and Instagram. See you around the world and the next time in Berlin, Hamburg, and Germany! Enjoy Dresden!
Karl & Daan.